Motta Siva Ketta Siva (MSKS) began life as the Telugu blockbuster Pataas. But like sambhar, whose peak refinement was reached in Tamil land though its origins lie elsewhere, Pataas too needed to come to Tamil Nadu to find its true potential; to become a masala-rich, perfectly-blended, hot pot of gravy, err, film.
Raghava Lawrence’s Motta Siva Ketta Siva (MSKS) is an eminently watchable film that has no pretensions, sticks to the formula that made the best masala-mass-action-thriller-sentiment films, and in between all that, manages to be slightly moving.
Then again, I have liked Raghava Lawrence for Kanchana. Let’s just give him a prize for that.
MSKS features Raghava Lawrence as the Siva who is both motta (tonsured), and ketta (bad). There’s also Nikki Galrani, Satyaraj, Ashutosh Rana, and others. With screenplay adapted from the Telugu Pataas, and directed by Sai Ramani, MSKS is produced by Supergood Films’ R.B Choudary.
That Motta Siva Ketta Siva even released, given all its production and distribution goof ups, title changes, and an absconding distributor, is an amazing thing. And so, for taking a pay cut and for helping recover some of the losses producers faced, let’s give Raghava Lawrence one more prize.
Raghava Lawrence’s usual collaborators – Kovai Sarala, Sriman, Devadarshini, Manobala, Mayilsaami – all appear in MSKS too, and have some awkward-funny moments. Awkward for this critic, who thought she was above base slapstick humour when not of the Goundamani-Senthil vintage. I did laugh, as did the rest of the cinema hall.
Given that it is a masala padam, you know that Siva will appear on screen in larger than life form, and then go on to become bigger, stronger, faster, harder through the remainder of the film. There are going to be knockout punches, sparks from shoes, blood and gore, a few dozen beat up goons, and broken electrical transformers, push carts, restaurant windows and other entirely dispensable public property. Tamil cinema stunts have evolved to a point where a stunt man no longer needs to come crashing down on terracotta pots and Ambasaddor cars conveniently parked in the market street. He can now come crashing down on Tata Safaris and Landrovers and the occasional Bajaj Auto.
Given it is a masala padam, you know that there is going to be an evil-as-evil can be villain, and a noble-hearted hero who is the saviour of the masses, protector of the underprivileged (What a man!), deliverer of the punch line, keeper of the mother-sentiment, holder of the sister’s honour, and mover of the heroine’s heart.
Given it is a masala padam, you know there’s going to be at least four songs completely unrelated to the narrative arc in which the hero and heroine feel important feels in locations that are patently not Tamil Nadu, and one completely unnecessary but oh-so-totally-needed item number in a set that’s a hand-me-down from the ’80s.
Given it is a masala padam, you know there will be cheesy lines, punch dialogues, upping-the-hero gasps of awe and admiration, borderline bigoted humour, more punch dialogues, and some attempt by actors with bad comic sense to lighten the mood.
Motta Siva Ketta Siva has all this, but despite that, it manages to be sensitive and moving at places.
Siva’s interactions with Nithya – the young woman with a speech and hearing impairment – is particularly well done. The best point of the movie is her family-of-choice – other young people with disabilities she supports. That such a character had to die for the awakening of righteous anger in the hero is perhaps a bit too masala-padam; however Nithya’s character is beautifully written and she dies a hero. And so for that, give the writer of the film, the director, and the hero who didn’t want every scene to be about him, a prize each.
In a Tamil cinema landscape strewn with absolute garbage – like the handling of transgender people, that a masala padam manages to not only not ill-treat and humiliate a transgender character, but actually make her presence important to the plot is a huge credit to MSKS, and to Pataas. Not surprisingly, Raghava Lawrence treats the trans woman with care and dignity, and for that, give him a prize.
That Raghava Lawrence, despite being a producer-director-actor-choreographer-hero – and therefore someone with a lot of privilege and power in the Tamil film industry – can be a sensitive, open-minded person who cares to portray under-privileged people in his films with a lot of sympathy – that is truly remarkable. And that he cares enough about the industry to make sure those who work with him do not suffer undue financial losses, is even more remarkable.
So for that, for all that – let’s give him one more prize.
The Motta Siva Ketta Siva review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.